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Climate change is fuelling farmers' protest across the globe

Farmers are among the most vulnerable groups to the impacts of climate change, as they depend on stable weather and environmental

By Wahid Bhat
New Update
Climate change is fuelling farmers' protest across the globe

Farmers are among the most vulnerable groups to the impacts of climate change, as they depend on stable weather and environmental conditions for their livelihoods. However, they are also among the most vocal and active groups in demanding action and justice from their governments and the international community.

In 2024, farmers’ protests have erupted in various regions of the world, highlighting the challenges and opportunities of adapting agriculture to a changing climate.

Farmers in different countries like India, France, Italy, Greece, Germany, Romania, Poland, and Spain have taken to the streets in protest in recent weeks. Their grievances encompass various issues, such as the challenge of competing against cheaper imports, escalating expenses for energy and fertilizers, and compliance with environmental regulations.

These issues connect to climate change and biodiversity in various ways. Protesters in some countries are demanding more action on climate adaptation, especially in Greece. There, farmers request measures to prevent flooding and other extreme weather from damaging their farmland. On the other hand in India, farmers demand better prices for their crops with a legal assurance of minimum support price.

Why farmers are protesting

Farmers across the EU and Asia have been protesting against various issues that affect their livelihoods, such as low prices, high costs, strict regulations, unfair competition, debt, and climate change, according to the Guardian.

Country Key Concerns Climate-related?
India Low prices for crops, new farm laws, debt, and MSP Yes, drought, heat stress, and erratic rainfall affect crop production and quality
Romania Farmers affected by slow subsidy payments, low state aid for fuel, drought. Yes, biodiversity/conservation, climate/emissions
Poland Loose trade rules on Ukrainian agricultural imports, fertiliser restrictions Yes, biodiversity/conservation
Lithuania Boosting milk prices, optimizing fuel subsidies, reinstating gas tax exemption, adjusting grassland restoration rules. Yes, climate/emissions, biodiversity/conservation
Greece More compensation for losses caused by disasters and disease, more infrastructure to protect farms against extreme weather Yes, climate/emissions
Germany Phase-out of agricultural fuel subsidies Yes, climate/emissions
France Reduced farm food and agri-fuel prices, EU pesticide limitations, the Mercosur deal, and possible EU fallow policy delay. Yes, climate/emissions, biodiversity/conservation
Belgium EU law promotes nature restoration, farm support, cheap imports, and better food prices in Belgium. Yes, biodiversity/conservation
Spain Spain are facing low prices, high production costs, and water management issues Drought, flooding, and extreme weather events.
Italy Farmers in Italy are struggling with competition from cheaper imports, rising costs of energy and fertiliser, and environmental regulations Drought/heatwaves harm crops
Poland Polish farmers protest against lax Ukrainian farm import rules and fertilizer restrictions, claiming impacts on prices, quality, and environment. Drought, flooding, and soil erosion.

In Asia, Indian farmers have also been protesting for months against three laws that would liberalise the agricultural market and expose them to the risks of climate change and global prices. They are asking the government to give guarantee on minimum support prices and public procurement for their crops.

Farmers’ Protests in Different Countries in 2024

In Europe, farmers have been protesting against the EU’s environmental and trade policies, which they perceive as unfair and harmful to their interests. In France, thousands of farmers blocked roads and dumped manure in front of government buildings, demanding more support and compensation for the losses caused by droughts, floods, and pests. 

Farmers in Germany rallied against the EU's Green Deal and Farm to Fork strategy in Berlin with tractors, while Romanian farmers protested the EU-Mercosur trade agreement fearing increased cheap imports from South America. Both groups voiced concerns over environmental standards and their competitiveness.

Peasants' protest at the Leipzig Battle of the Nations Monument. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Asian farmers battle climate change and market liberalization, with thousands in India protesting for months against laws deregulating agriculture, exposing them to global price fluctuations and corporate interests.

The farmers argue that the laws would undermine their guaranteed minimum support prices and public procurement systems, which provide them with some income security and protection from climate shocks. Farmers in Sri Lanka have been protesting against a government ban on chemical fertilizers and pesticides that the government imposed to reduce environmental pollution and health risks.

The farmers claim that the ban would reduce their crop yields and quality and that they have not been provided with adequate alternatives or assistance.

African farmers, particularly in Zimbabwe, grapple with climate change effects on food security, and recurrent droughts reducing maize yields and income. Although receiving government aid and subsidies, they seek increased support, including investment in irrigation, seeds, and extension services.

In Ethiopia, farmers have been coping with the impacts of the desert locust invasion, which has devastated their crops and pastures. The government and its partners have been conducting aerial and ground spraying operations to control the locusts, but the farmers say they need more help to recover their losses and restore their livelihoods.


The German government’s plan to phase out a tax break on agricultural diesel sparked nationwide protests by farmers on January 8 this year. The farmers feared that the subsidy cuts would drive them to bankruptcy. The conflict between the government and the farmers is unlikely to be resolved soon, as the next meeting of the Bundesrat is scheduled for March 22.

The government later revised its budget cut plans by dropping a proposal to end a car tax exemption for farming vehicles and instead gradually reducing the agricultural diesel subsidies.

However, the German farmers were not satisfied and demanded that the subsidies be fully restored. The Financial Times reported that the subsidy issues were the main cause of the protests, but a German farmer named Frank Schmidt told the outlet that he and his fellow farmers were already fed up.

The protests also expressed broader dissatisfaction with the German government, as the farmers complained about regulations and cheap imported food. The demonstrations reached a peak in mid-January when about 30,000 protesters and thousands of tractors blocked Berlin’s city centre, the Guardian reported.


The Romanian farmers and truck drivers protested against various issues, many of which were connected to climate change or biodiversity.

One of the main problems for the Romanian farmers and their counterparts in other Eastern European countries was the competition from Ukrainian grain imports. The farmers said they could not match the low prices of these imports.

The Romanian farmers also complained about the problems caused by Ukrainian grain imports, Politico reported, saying that “Romania became a key route for Ukrainian grain because Russia blockaded Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.”

The Romanian government tried to appease the protesters by offering more funding and fuel subsidies for the farmers on 26 January, Radio Romania International said.


Farmers in Poland have been staging a general strike since February 12, demanding that the national government and the EU take action to protect them from EU environmental policies and non-EU competition. The farmers have been disrupting traffic across the country with their roadblocks, protesting the rising costs of production, the falling profits, and the unfair competition.

The farmers’ anger is not confined to India and Europe. In April 2022, Argentine farmers took to the streets of Buenos Aires to oppose President Alberto Fernandez, who tried to regulate food prices to curb rampant inflation but faced backlash from the agricultural sector.

Farmers' protest in the outskirts of Warsaw. Photo Credit: RealWarsaw_pl/flickr

In November 2022, Peruvian farmers and truck drivers set up at least 14 roadblocks as part of ongoing protests over high petrol prices and fertiliser shortages, affecting the trade and tourism industries of the South American country.

However, it seems that governments around the world often adopt agricultural policies and reforms to modernise the sector and increase productivity. However, these reforms can create instability if they ignore the farmers’ needs and interests.

Role of climate change

The U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which reviews the latest global climate science, has warned that climate change is already harming Europe’s farmers by reducing the yields of maize, rice, soybean and wheat. Climate change is causing more frequent and intense heat waves that hinder plant growth and worsen droughts that damage crops and livestock.

A team of scientists found that human-induced climate change was the main factor behind a severe heatwave last July that had devastating effects on agriculture around the world. These hot and dry conditions also increase the risk of wildfires, such as the ones that destroyed farms and olive groves in Greece last summer.

Meanwhile, a warmer atmosphere can hold more water, so when it rains, it pours. This leads to more floods that can ruin farmland - as happened in Italy last May when thousands of farms were submerged.

If climate change is not tackled urgently, its impacts on Europe and Asia’s farmers will get worse. The IPCC has projected that more than a third of southern Europe’s people will suffer from water shortages if global average temperatures rise to 2C above pre-industrial levels.

The world has already warmed by 1.2C from pre-industrial times. Water scarcity is already affecting farmers in the Mediterranean, where droughts are common. Italy, famous for its wines and pasta wheat, experienced one of its worst droughts in 2022.

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